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Our testing methods
As ever, we did our best to deliver clean benchmark numbers. Tests were run at least three times, and the results were averaged.

Our test systems were configured like so:

Processor Athlon 64 X2 4800+ 2.4GHz
System bus1GHz HyperTransport
MotherboardAsus A8N-SLI Deluxe
BIOS revision1014
North bridgenForce4 SLI
South bridge
Chipset driversSMBus driver 4.50
Memory size2GB (2 DIMMs)
Memory typeCrucial PC3200 DDR SDRAM at 400MHz
CAS latency (CL)2.5
RAS to CAS delay (tRCD)3
RAS precharge (tRP)3
Cycle time (tRAS)8
Hard driveMaxtor DiamondMax 10 250GB SATA 150
AudioIntegrated nForce4/ALC850 with Realtek 5.10.0.5900 drivers
Graphics GeForce 6800 GS 256MB PCI-E with ForceWare 81.87 drivers
Dual GeForce 6800 GS 256MB PCI-E with ForceWare 81.87 drivers
XFX GeForce 7800 GT 256MB PCI-E with ForceWare 81.87 drivers
Dual XFX GeForce 7800 GT 256MB PCI-E with ForceWare 81.87 drivers
MSI GeForce 7800 GTX 256MB PCI-E with ForceWare 81.87 drivers
Dual MSI GeForce 7800 GTX 256MB PCI-E with ForceWare 81.87 drivers
GeForce 7800 GTX 512 512MB PCI-E with ForceWare 81.89 drivers
Dual GeForce 7800 GTX 512 512MB PCI-E with ForceWare 81.89 drivers
Radeon X1600 XT 256MB PCI-E  with Catalyst 5.10a beta drivers
Radeon 800 XL 256MB PCI-E  with Catalyst 5.10a beta drivers
Radeon X1800 XL 256MB PCI-E  with Catalyst 5.10a beta drivers
Radeon X1800 XT 512MB PCI-E with Catalyst 5.10a beta drivers
OSWindows XP Professional (32-bit)
OS updatesService Pack 2, DirectX 9.0c SDK update (October 2005)

Thanks to Crucial for providing us with memory for our testing. 2GB of RAM seems to be the new standard for most folks, and Crucial hooked us up with some of its 1GB DIMMs for testing. Although these particular modules are rated for CAS 3 at 400MHz, they ran perfectly for us at 2.5-3-3-8 with 2.85V.

All of our test systems were powered by OCZ PowerStream 520W power supply units. The PowerStream was one of our Editor's Choice winners in our last PSU round-up.

Unless otherwise specified, the image quality settings for both ATI and NVIDIA graphics cards were left at the control panel defaults.

The test systems' Windows desktops were set at 1280x1024 in 32-bit color at an 85Hz screen refresh rate. Vertical refresh sync (vsync) was disabled for all tests.

We used the following versions of our test applications:

The tests and methods we employ are generally publicly available and reproducible. If you have questions about our methods, hit our forums to talk with us about them.


A $1300 graphics subsystem